The Court of Caid and the Blue Knight

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The Court of Caid and the Blue Knight by Dame Eilidh Swann


The Tale

In all the years of Caid, that jewel of a kingdom that was bathed in sunlight throughout the year, a shining beacon to all who would be courteous and great, where artisans and tradesmen flocked, great men and women took up the sword for love of their King and Queen, where music and wine flowed freely to all who would come ask, there came a Summer Celebration, a May Day, in the court of Caid. Every year they marked their days with dancing and feasting, boasting of bravery, and giving gifts and boons to those of every household. And in these days of dazzling delight, there came a courteous and mighty King and Queen, Sven and Kolfinna. And I propose to tell you a wondrous adventure, if you will listen but a little I will tell it to you

with song
As I heard it told
In story brave and strong
In loyal book of old
In a land treasured long

King Sven was at May Court, with all his princely brethren, and they made rich revel and mirth, and were free from care. The gentle knights and squires, lords and ladies of the sword, held many a full tournament, staging swords in jolly fashion, and returning to the feast halls for song and meat and mirth, such as they could devise. It was glorious to hear the noisy glee by day and the dancing by night, and all through the halls and chambers, the most renowned Knights and Lords and Ladies, Masters and Mistresses, Barons and Baronesses, even to the smallest child and newest servant, did they all have their fill of frivolity and fun. So great were these Caidans,

In mirth
The sweetest in the land
King and Queen of such worth
I could not name a band
So sweet upon the earth

Now I will tell you no more of the serving, of the feasting, of the singing, for you should know that there was nothing wanting in all the court. But straightaway as soon as the first course had been served, when a strange and surprising sight was to be seen. A grand, tall fellow filled the door frame, stooped over was he, that he was taller still than the door. So great was his frame, I was sure he was a giant of the tales of old. His form was still comely, and pleasant to behold, but of all these things so great to see

I tell you true
Great wonder was this Knight
Folks in this hall not few
Were shocked of their sight
He was all over Blue

He was clad in blue garments, a close fitting coat, a mantle above, well-lined and bright. His hose were the same, and bright spurs of white gold, they shown as if stars. And all upon his garments were fantastic beasts, embroidered in bright blue silks, glimmering and twinkling with blue stones, and shining with treasure and wealth. And behind him in the hall, a great horse was saddled, dressed in blue of the same color, saddle and barding, bells and pendants, yet more fantastic was this

A blue mane
Azure bright, twas no trick
A steed there in the lane
Embroidered bridle thick
Blue horse in his train

The Blue Knight, standing there, wore not helmet nor armor, carried no spear nor shield, but an axe huge and shining, a great weapon of might. The wood was deep blue, the steel darkest night, well burnished brightly and sharp as sweet death. The sturdy blue knight gripped this axe bright and strong, strode long into the hall, and gazing about the fine feasters, did no bow nor salute. In four steps he found the center of the hall, where declaring to all, he sought what he would, “Where is the Chief of this Land? Gladly would I speak with him now, be he in cote or

In gown.”
The knight cast round his eye
And sought up and down
He stopped there to spy
Who was of best renown

The King, from his place, did offer a fine answer to this likely new friend, “Sir, welcome you are to this hall, I am Sven, King of Caid. Leave your steed with our pages, and linger long with us for we have much we can share this day.” But the fellow responded, “Nay, it is not mine to stay on this day, but I have come far to see if your bravery is great as I’ve heard. I’ve a challenge for you here, and a game to offer to play.” And Sven, liking good sport, raised a glass in a toast

“Then tonight
If this is how you care
Challenge on, fine knight
In battle or game fare
We fail not in the fight.”

“Nay, I seek not to fight, for none here could match me in arms. And there’s not a steed in your stables could match me in my high seat. No, I only seek out a game in this Summer court of feasting. If there be any here so bold, I would give him this heavy axe, handle it if you dare, and I would bare my great throat, strike me with but one stroke. I will stand here and not flinch, yet he who would strike me must agree,

In no delay
I’ll give him the same blow
In a year and a day
Now think well and say so
If any dare yet to play”

More astonished than before, at his bright blue color and manner, this boast and challenge did seem quite mad. And in that moment of silence, as they thought on his great madness, the Blue Knight mistook them for cowards and fools. He coughed loud and scornful, laughed hard at them all, “Where is your pride and your valor, your great words and renown? You are all terrified at me here, though no blow has been struck, no blood has been shed,” and he laughed loud and full. But when he stopped well to gather his breath and continue, one lady

did stand
Full well in her height
And the Queen of this land
Caught his gaze in her sight
And Her voice to command

“You boast, you strange fellow, and you laugh at us all. You seek a great foolishness, and I see none here frightened of you. Give me that great axe, and I will grant you your boon.” The King beamed a fine smile, as he knew well his Queen. For though She is Lady of us all, that white girdle She earned well on Her own. And sitting down with a laugh, at this foolish Blue Knight, he sat back to enjoy the best game of them all. Calling for another round in his cup, He saluted Her full. And She leapt o’er the table

in one bound
Grasped the axe in one hand
Struck once with no sound
Till his head there did land
Just one bounce, on the ground

But though much strange we’d seen on that May Day feast, nothing prepared us for that which was next. For the Blue Knight did not fall, but with grace and with ease, reached down for his head, and held it high by the hair. And only one drop of dark blood fell to stain our Great Hall, before he’d strode back to the door, and stooping low in the frame, turned to see us once more. Then leaping up on his blue steed, he galloped off into the night, while our Queen still there stood, holding fast to his blue axe. And She looked at the King, and looked at all of us there,

“I believe
The game is on now
His head I did cleave
And though I know not how
He just took his leave!”

The hall erupted in cheers, in laughter and song, for such mysteries as these were not oft seen in our land. And the Queen strode back to Her seat, and taking up Her horn, gave us all great toast and feast and bade us continue as before. And the months and days flew by as the year did unfold, with many tournaments of great deeds and such hunts and feasts as we desired. And the lords and the ladies with needles and silk, of great cunning and skill, did devise a great cote of shining splendor for our Queen. Emblazoned on the front and back, the brightest four crescents were shaped and stitched. And the Queen thought long on those four, those pillars of her land. The Knights, the Pelicans, the Laurels, and the People, four hosts She vowed to defend. The sword and the scarf and the arrow and the horse, four forms on her fields. The young and the old, the strong and the weak, Her populace all. And near end of next Spring, as May loomed

once again
Blue axe in Her hand
She stood there with Sven
Looked out on Her land
Her ladies and men

So she saddled up tall, and giving Sven one last kiss, galloped out into the night. For a full month she traveled, seeing all of Her lands from Calafia to Angels, from Isles to Dreiburgen, she rode every road and found many a fine court, but none had seen such as had been seen that last May. No Blue Knight came calling, no Blue Steed was seen, from Starkhafn to al-Sahid. Neither Nordwache nor Wintermist, Dun Or nor Naevehjem had heard of such a Knight, though they’d looked well all year. Carreg Wen and Darachshire conferred, Lyondemere and Gyldenholt, Altavia and Heatherwyne, even missives sent from Western Seas, none had seen such a beast. When at last on a back lane, she wandered o’er a hill, and a fairy mist set in, and the bogs grew wet at Her feet. She stood tall in the saddle, fearing none

in her land
She knew now she’d find
At once to understand
Caution left behind
This beast to unhand

And a castle appeared in the mists on this hill, and many lads came running forth to handle her steed. And they brought her up into a great feasting hall, with bright lights and songs, sweet meads and ales flowing free. And the king in this hall came forth to give her a seat, and spoke well of their love and their devotion for one with such a fine reputation as She. For they’d heard of Queen Kolfinna, and knew Her to be true, honest, and loyal, the Fairest in Her land. And when all the feasting was done, and a bed cleared for Her there, the king went bold in the chamber, to speak that which he loved. “Take this fair ring of brightest gold, and take my love, for you’ve stolen my heart.” She turned him away, “say not

One more word
Your ring I’ll not take
Nor songs of love heard
I’ve a quest here to make
My luck I’m assured”

And bowing out of her room, he bothered her no more. And she slept sound and well, waking at the first dawn’s new light. Buckling on her white belt with her Caidan crosses front and back, She strode out through the Hall and leapt upon Her great steed. Charging up through the glade, She found a cave broad and wide, with a great azure steed grazing on the hill nearby. She dismounted and shouted, calling out the Blue Knave, “I’ve your game here, if you’re not too frightened and cowardly this day.” The Blue Knight, still weary with sleep, stumbled out into the light. And taking stock in his wits, faced Her at his full height. “I see you’ve all the Bravery they speak of, but let us finish this tale.” And he grabbed up his axe and set to strike her full force

But she stood
Strong and quite proud
Wrapped in brotherhood
In love they did enshroud
Her with faith, strong and good

And when he swung that great axe toward Her knightly self, the axe nicked at Her chain and shattered in one strike. The Crescents on Her tabard scattered each splinter and sliver, and his own pride and arrogance melted in that fair blow. He broke down and confessed it was he who tried to seduce Her, with riches and promises and whispers untrue. And seeing now how She carried the strength of every Caidan, in the Crescents emblazoned on Her Shield and Her Cote, he promised no more to wander tempting men with foul axes. And at Her feet he swore his allegiance, always and ever Her man.

Then they all returned to the Grand Court, to hold a greater May feast than any had every heard or dreamed of. And the tabard of the People was passed around the whole hall. The lords and the ladies danced many a great measure. And other adventures they had still since then, but thus ends my tale.

blip.tv Video

http://blip.tv/file/2052845/ Video by Don Alexander Kallidokos, recorded at Pentathlon 2009